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I've always felt, with 'The Iliad,' a real frustration that it's read wrong. That it's turned into this public school poem, which I don't think it is. That glamorising of war, and white-limbed, flowing-haired Greek heroes - it's become a cliched, British empire part of our culture.
There's a lot of rage in my head. I like the friction that means there is nothing relaxing about writing a poem. I can't afford to relax in any area of life. You have to keep your senses awake to all the complacency that kicks in - particularly for the English.
My parents' generation was definitely pre-telly, and they knew how to entertain each other. Everybody knew something that they could do - a song or a poem, or a piece of music. At school, I remember being a cat and then a budgie and then a bumble bee. I obviously thought all that was marvelous.
I consider a poem to be a kind of experiment where a number of elements are brought together under test conditions to see how they will interact to create meaning or relevance.
The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam, whether it takes ultimate shape in a law of physics or a law of the land, a poem or a policy, a sonata or a mechanical computer.
Alfred Whitney Griswold
Sometimes the only way I know how to work through something is by writing a poem. And sometimes I get to the end of the poem and look back and go, 'Oh, that's what this is all about,' and sometimes I get to the end of the poem and haven't solved anything, but at least I have a new poem out of it.
Students often have such a lofty idea of what a poem is, and I want them to realize that their own lives are where the poetry comes from. The most important things are to respect the language; to know the classical rules, even if only to break them; and to be prepared to edit, to revise, to shape.
Let my life as Poet begin. I want the life of the Poet. I have labored for over twelve years, one thousand pages of prose. Now, I want the easiness of poetry. The brevity of the poem.
Maxine Hong Kingston
When I have worries, fears or a love affair, I have the luck of being able to transform it into a poem.
When you know the lyrics to a tune, you have some kind of insight as to it's composition. If you don't understand what it's about, you're depriving yourself of being really able to communicate this poem.
The heart of the matter seems to me to be the direct interaction between one's making a poem in English and a poem in the language that one understands and values. I don't see how you can do it otherwise.
The reason one writes poems is so that your poem will be remembered.
The pleasure that I take in writing gets me interested in writing a poem. It's not a statement about what I think anybody else should be doing. For me, it's an interesting tension between interior and exterior.
Poems have a different music from ordinary language, and every poem has a different kind of music of necessity, and that's, in a way, the hardest thing about writing poetry is waiting for that music, and sometimes you never know if it's going to come.
C. K. Williams
It really gets on my goat that people keep quoting Dorothea Mackellar's 'My Country' as proof that there is no such thing as climate change. A poem written more than 100 years ago by a homesick 19 year old versus an ever-increasing body of refereed scientific thought... hmm, hard to know which way to jump, really.
If that voice that you created that is most alive in the poem isn't carried throughout the whole poem, then I destroy where it's not there, and I reconstruct it so that that voice is the dominant voice in the poem.
Learn poetry by heart. If you know a poem by heart, no one can take it away from you, and you can take advantage of it anytime.
I entered a poem in a poetry contest around 1987, and the poem won and I received $1,000 for it. That made me realize that maybe what I was writing was worth reading to people. After that, for some reason, I turned to novels and I've written mainly novels ever since.
One reason to write a poem is to flush from the deep thickets of the self some thought, feeling, comprehension, question, music, you didn't know was in you, or in the world.
What I responded to, on the page, was the way a poem could liberate, by means of a word's setting, through subtleties of timing, of pacing, that word's full and surprising range of meaning. It seemed to me that simple language best suited this enterprise.
Style is not something applied. It is something that permeates. It is of the nature of that in which it is found, whether the poem, the manner of a god, the bearing of a man. It is not a dress.
Most students of literature can pick apart a metaphor or spot an ethnic stereotype, but not many of them can say things like: 'The poem's sardonic tone is curiously at odds with its plodding syntax.'
What is the poem, after it is written? That is the question. Not where it came from or why.
There are different gradations of personhood in different poems. Some of them seem far away from me and some up close, and the up-close ones generally don't say what I want them to say. And that's true of the persona in the poem who's lamenting this as a fact of a certain stage of life. But it's also true of me as me.
Every old poem is sacred.
C. S. Lewis
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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